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Old 01-04-2013, 07:16 PM   #1
Babbage78
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Default Special Bitter

I've never really brewed a special bitter before, so I thought I'd run the recipe I made by everyone on here for some advice, Thanks in advance.

5 gallon batch, 1.044 OG 30 IBU

6.00 lbs Maris Otter
0.50 lbs Caramel 40L
0.25 lbs Pale Chocolate Malt
0.65 lbs Table Sugar
0.45 oz Galena hops (60 min)
1.00 oz East Kent Goldings (15 min)
1.60 oz East Kent Goldings (2 min)
Wyeast 1318 London Ale III @68 F

Was thinking of mashing at 153 F

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Old 01-05-2013, 05:46 PM   #2
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Not bad, but the table sugar and the pale chocolate are not necessary. The pale choc is going to give you too much dark malt flavors (and too much color) and the table sugar is both the wrong type of sugar and not going to do anything for the beer but dry it out and add alcohol.

If this really is your first bitter, I would highly suggest making something more traditional at first. A good recipe would be something like:

6-7lbs Good quality MO or English pale malt.
0.5lbs English medium crystal 40-55L. US made crystal malt is not the same as the UK stuff.

For hopping, all EKG, at 60, 20, flameout. Save the galena for your bigger US style beers, the EKG bittering addition will add its own character to the beer. Also, US goldings is not a substitute for real Kent Goldings.

Lastly, good yeast choice, although pitch around 64-65F and let it slowly rise to 68F over the course of fermentation. Make sure you don't underpitch and oxygenate well. Mash temp of 150F-154F is fine.

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Old 01-05-2013, 08:04 PM   #3
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Well the inclusion of the table sugar was for two reasons, one so that it would dry it out somewhat because I want this beer to be extremely sessionable and two because it was listed as a common practice for Special Bitters in Ray Daniel's Designing Great Beers.

As for the galena hops, I had considered doing all ekg but it just seemed wasteful since every source lists that a 60 minute hop addition will have all of its flavor and aroma compounds boiled away, and I've used galena before and got a really clean bitter from them.

The pale chocolate is the only thing I was reserved about, the amount should be low enough to not pull roasted flavors from them. As a matter of fact that why I chose to go with pale chocolate instead of normal chocolate malt because it is supposed to produce less of a roasted flavor and more of a nutty flavor. I'm adding them mostly for color contribution and beersmith shows that the recipe is right in the middle range of the special bitter color range.

I'll def be doing what you suggested for the yeast pitching temp, I've done a similar thing for a wit that I made and got really great balanced esters from the yeast.

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Old 01-05-2013, 08:13 PM   #4
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I've actually got some piloncillo on hand from another batch I made earlier, that might compliment the malty/caramel grist better than regular table sugar. What do you all think?

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Old 01-05-2013, 08:22 PM   #5
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If you want it to finish lower, then mash lower. Like 150F instead of 153F. I also think you should use British crystal I in it (a 45L malt). I'd also ditch the pale chocolate and save that for another brew. You can also use all EKG for the hops. I do and the batches come out great. Using Wyeast 1335 could be a better yeast choice too. It can attenuate higher and will still leave good malt characteristics in the batch.

I don't add any simple sugars to any of my pale ales. IMO, its not needed at all.

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Old 01-14-2013, 03:19 PM   #6
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Just wanted to update the people that were kind enough to reply to my questions. I brewed this recipe yesterday and I'd say it went pretty smoothly. Actually ended up with an OG of 1.046 instead of 1.044 but I never really mind extra efficiency. I didn't really make many edits to what I had originally posted here except for the hop additions due to higher AA% than I had expected.

This was actually my first AG batch and I've got to say I'm probably never doing extract again, AG is the best. I tasted my gravity sample and it tastes very complex, keeping my fingers crossed. No yest starter was made, I pitched a wyeast 1318 London Ale III pack at the point of almost bursting and bubbling was detected in the airlock at just 2 hours . I'll come back and update everyone once I can give you all tasting notes.

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Old 02-01-2013, 05:24 PM   #7
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UPDATE TIME!

So the Special bitter ended up at 1.010 with just the right color but as some people had suggested the roasted/Toasted quality from the Pale Chocolate malt is VERY slightly too much but only in the aftertaste, I'm thinking of winding it down from 4 oz of pale chocolate malt to somewhere around 2 to 2.5 oz for my next attempt of this recipe. The hop bitterness seems to be just right and the beer has a fantastic flavor and a head that refuses to drop out lol. Thanks for all the help guys, I guess next time I'll actually listen to the advice that's given to me :P

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Old 02-25-2013, 09:09 PM   #8
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Hey, I brewed a Special Bitter a few weeks ago with some pale chocolate in it. I get a distinct ashy / tobacco flavor from it. Historically, across about 5 batches of the stuff, I never used the pale chocolate malt. Do you get any tobacco / ashy flavors?

Thanks!

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Old 02-26-2013, 06:07 PM   #9
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No I didn't really get any tobacco flavors, it was a pretty recognizable nutty or lightly toasty flavor. What other grains/hops did you use? Fuggle hops are characterized by a tobacco/earthy flavor.

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Old 02-26-2013, 08:24 PM   #10
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I'd use darker crystal for a bitter. In the UK what we call 'crystal' (not light, dark or anything) is around 70L. That way you can ditch the chocolate too (although it's not out of stile to have some). Regarding hops, yeah, I'd be more creative than most American sites suggest, which sounds as if the only two British hops would be Goldings and Fuggles. Hops have been imported into the UK for centuries, and using, say, Willamette for flavour, or using Nugget for bittering would not be out of style. Styrian Goldings are also used heavily. If you want to try more modern British hops, go for some First Gold or Progress for aroma, or Target, Pilgrim or Challenger for bittering (not so new). Also, feel free to chuck 5-10% of wheat (torrified or malted) in there. Many British bitters are up to 20% crystal malt, and they can be darkish brown without a problem. Actually, last night I had a 'dark bitter' by Bath Ales, and it was dark ruby in colour, but definitively still a bitter and not a brown ale or a mild.

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